Wheat field

Food security: improving agriculture to face global challenges

CSIRO Plant Industry scientists are working to improve agriculture to face global challenges such as the need to increase food production as the world population soars to nine billion by 2050.

  • 26 March 2010 | Updated 12 January 2012

Feeding the world's rapidly increasing population is a global problem. 

The combined challenges of population growth, increased competition for land and water, biofuel production, climate change and economic development is leading to major changes in food production and consumption.  

To tackle these challenges CSIRO Plant Industry scientists continue to develop new techniques to maximise of farm management practices and produce crop varieties to deal with many of the challenges to plant food production that lie ahead.

Maximising resource use efficiency in crop production means there is less environmental impact, less cost to farmers and increased yields.

Our researchers are breeding varieties of food crops and developing farming systems to produce crops with:

  • higher yields
  • improved reproduction
  • tolerance to droughts and increased carbon dioxide
  • tolerance to extreme conditions
  • greater resistance to pests and diseases.

CSIRO Plant Industry: Our food security-related research

Resisting Fusarium to improve food security

As the world population increases, efficient crop production is crucial to global food security. CSIRO scientists are developing wheat plants resistant to Fusarium, a fungus capable of severely reducing yields and costing Australian farmers A$79 million a year. (5:21)

International C4 Rice Consortium

In collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute, CSIRO is part of a major international food security initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

As cold as rice

CSIRO scientists are working to produce rice and wheat varieties that can better withstand extreme conditions, an essential adaptation to ensure abundant food supply as the world climate changes. (5:39)

Saving wheat crops worldwide

CSIRO Plant Industry scientists and international collaborators have discovered the key to overcoming three major cereal diseases, which in epidemic years cost wheat growers worldwide in excess of AUS$7.8 billion.

Pollinator decline not reducing crop yields just yet

The well-documented worldwide decline in the number of bees and other pollinators is not, at this stage, limiting global crop yields, according to the results of an international study published in the latest edition of the respected science journal, Current Biology.

Peter Dodds - saving the world from hunger

CSIRO Plant Industry scientist, Dr Peter Dodds, has been named by the leading science journal Nature as one of five crop researchers who could change the world. In this podcast, Dr Dodds talks about the research that has attracted this acclaim. (5:21)

CSIRO and food production: securing our food future

CSIRO is delivering science to improve food production systems and food quality in Australia and internationally.

Read more about CSIRO Plant Industry.